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Inicio > Why does my baby suck his finger?

Why does my baby suck his finger?

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“Non-nutritive sucking” is the academic name of the known sucking finger, sucking the suck or other object. It responds at the beginning to normal reflexes already present from the intrauterine life (between the 13 and 16 weeks of pregnancy) and the first year of the baby’s life. In general it corresponds to alterations of the lactation, like the perception of tension during the feeding before the discomfort of the mother when giving the breast.

After the year of life, when suction disappears as a reflex, it represents an act of compensation against fear, insecurity or lack of adaptation to the surrounding environment. In addition to suction, there are other equivalents that represent the same problems of adaptation: playing with the hair, sleeping to hold an element considered as a toy or pillow or sucking a sheet, cloth or similar that is considered his property, including Suck

 

Can it cause damage?

It depends on several factors such as the intensity, frequency, duration in hours of each episode and how long it lasts in relation to age, that is, if the habit lasts longer than 4 years, there can be important alterations of facial growth and Teeth.

 

What kind of damage can it cause?

• Open or anterior bite

Lack of contact between the upper and lower incisors when biting. The boy bites only with his molars.

• Displacement of teeth

Protrusion of the upper incisors outwards and retraction of the lower incisors inwards.

• Lack of proper development of the maxilla

When suctioning, the tongue remains retracted below the finger, this means that it does not occupy its place under the palate, the growth of the tongue is parallel to the upper jaw and is its stimulus, so that not being in Its place, the stimulus decreases and the maxilla grows less.

 

What should I do in this situation? 

• Until the year

If your baby is less than a year old you should not do anything since it is absolutely normal.

• After the year

Identify the cause of why you suck your finger such as hunger, boredom, anxiety, sleep or any special situation. Once you identify the why you can distract him with something alternative. If you are hungry you can give him some biscuit or snack, if he is sleepy take him to nap, if he does it when he watches television, he distracts and plays with him, etc …

• Memory Therapy

If the child is more than 4 years old, explain that the finger should not go to the mouth and to remember it places an adhesive band on both thumbs or the finger that is suctioned more frequently.

• Reward therapy

It will motivate the child to leave the suction to receive rewards.

If the process is abandoned before the age of 5, where the definitive dentition begins, correction of defects is simple and often quite spontaneous. If it persists, the child may need some years of orthodontics in the future.

* Written by the dra. Alexandra Castañeda, Lingual Technical Orthodontist and Functional Orthopedics.

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